What will happen to the old contracts when the workers return?
This question has been coming up in our “Everyday History Society” in different ways. Some companies have promised to pay double salary to the workers who stayed behind and have honored this promise, but are making issues with these very persons from taking leave to go home. Then there are some workers who work in government sector and have to transfer almost a year’s salaries.
Breakfast in Libya, Lunch in India
“You fellows want to say good morning in Tripoli, and good afternoon in Delhi” one manager of a Libyan owned private company said to his long term employee who was wanting his visa made and leave to see his sick mother.
Such insensitive remarks, trivializing the core issues faced by the workers is not the best possible way to a new democratic Libya which will require institutions.
Institutions are built by human beings, not by machines and buildings.
A pending police case resolved
“Why are you taking on such a highly connected powerful local person,” I asked one professional who went out of her way to clear her name of some trumped up charges.
The root of the issue was that she wanted her dues, and he did not want to give them. He used his connections to intimidate. When she would not get intimidated, he used police to confiscate her passport. This made her even more firm.
The middle path approach of compromise which I was suggesting was rejected by her and ultimately she was cleared of all charges, her passport returned with due honour.
“It is the question of concept, of principle,” her husband, a senior manager in the health sector explained to me. There were many lessons I learnt, how to maintain one’s files, to maintain one’s wits while being intimidated, and most of all-to maintain one’s dignity and honour.
The issues mentioned above involve highly qualified professionals with many years of international experience. Things are different for workers in companies owned by their parent country, be in Indian, Turkish, Pakistani.
One former ambassador summarized the scenario like this
“There are three types of companies-
1.Contracts with companies owned by their parent country –working on projects
These may be 1.1-Government undertakings .Eg-Oil sector, construction sector
1.2-Private companies Eg-Construction sector
We have good influence over these as they come to us for various permits
And also they have registered offices in their parent country
2. Contracts with government sector
Here we have some influence through government channels, and though
There is bureaucracy, things move slowly, there is some structure and surety.
3. Contracts with private companies
Here we have the least influence. The contracts may or may not be honored
And the private parties have powerful connections, and may choose to behave
In the manner mentioned in the two examples given above
Need for professionals council
Apart from information sharing if a formal professionals council is made to collectively deal with such incidents there may be some check, as when the professionals are caught in a situation, they are usually left facing powerful organized local interests almost single-handedly.
Do you know of someone who has faced similar issues?